Noon Design Studio uses ancient dye techniques to produce natural clothing that is completely biodegradable and nontoxic.
One of the biggest problems with cheap, mass-produced clothing (think Wal-Mart, K-mart, and Target), is that the industrial processes used to turn the raw textiles into colorful, trendy outfits involve toxic substances such as lead, other heavy metals, and arsenic.
Not only do these substances trigger skin irritation and allergies for some people, they also contribute to air and water pollution. Organic clothing makers are multiplying rapidly, but the high cost of their wares often prohibits people from revamping their entire wardrobe with sustainable alternatives.
That's why Jane Palmer, co-creator of the Noon Solar line of bags decided to open her own natural-dye production house in Chicago earlier this year. Noon Design Studio uses sustainably harvested natural materials as a low-impact alternative to toxic fabric treatments, all while being cost-efficient and achieving production scale.
Humans have been using natural substances to provide color and texture to their clothing for thousands of years.
Madder (Rubia tinctorum) has been the plant of choice when creating a red dye over the last 5000 years and traces of madder dyed linen were found in the tomb of Tutankhamen. Yellow is perhaps one of the easier dyes to obtain naturally. It can be obtained from a variety of sources including onion skins, turmeric, cold tea and rhubarb (The Ecologist). Indigo has long been used in Japan and Africa from peasants to nobles.
"Whether created from madder root, pomegranate, walnuts, indigo, or cochineal insects, natural dyes can yield some of the most brilliant hues imaginable," reports Ecouterre. "Plus, the water and energy used in the process is minimal, and the water runoff can be returned to the water table without any ill effects."
Check out this cool video of Palmer talking about the machine she created to dye large amounts of fabric efficiently.